New digs! Brooklyn schools building indoor farms

New digs! Brooklyn schools building indoor farms
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Call them nursery schools.

A dozen schools around the borough will soon transform their classrooms into greenhouses with new hydroponic gardens, which educators say will help their charges learn futuristic farming techniques that will appeal to the employers of tomorrow.

“This will definitely help students compete in the 21st century,” said Carolyn James, the principal of IS 211 John Wilson, a Canarsie school that will start flowering next year.

Borough President Adams announced on Monday that he is assigning $167,000 in taxpayer funds to grow the indoor veggie patches at IS 211 and 11 other institutions of learning, including PS 21 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Bushwick’s Academy for Environmental Leadership, Academy of Urban Planning, IS 383, and PS 377.

The program is targeted at neighborhoods where kids don’t usually get access to the latest whiz-bang technology, said the Beep, and will help the budding scholars learn to love eating their veggies while honing science skills.

“Brooklyn is getting back to its roots as we move into a greener future, growing healthy food and talented students in the same classroom,” said Adams.

The living classrooms look more like laboratories than farms — the schools will install rows of soil-free planters where individual plants can grow in test-tube-like conditions under special lights.

At the Academy of Urban Planning, students will cultivate lettuce, kale, spinach, and collard greens in their high-tech conservatory, then take the produce home to eat — and the kids can’t wait to start chowing down on learning, said the school’s principal.

“They were truly excited,” said Kyleema Norman. “This gives my kids an in on job opportunities as well as their own personal health and development.”

Before the schools can turn the spigot, they’ll have to refit the classrooms with new sinks and cabinets, so the farms are expected to get underway next year.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.
Fully grown: PS 84 in Williamsburg already has plants growing in its classrooms.
Ari Burling